If only it stopped at the name calling is the phrase that has been used to describe this tragedy, which comes across incredibly well in this one-off film from the BBC.
Murdered To Be Different depicts the true story on how young couple Sophie Lancaster and Robert Maltby were viciously attacked by a gang of teenagers in their local skate park, the main incentive behind this attack was because of the way they looked different. Maltby survived from his injuries, unfortunately Lancaster didn’t and died days later. Speaking as a member of an alternative subculture, particularly Goth, this is an extremely important story; one that has sparked an amazing legacy for the past decade.
One thing I noticed with reconstruction stories is that it starts off with the attack/event and then works from the beginning. It was very refreshing to see that Murdered For Being Different take a completely different turn; the flashbacks focus on the couple’s incredibly affectionate relationship from their first meeting. I admired they looked at the aftermath of the attack told from Maltby’s point of view and a witness who called the ambulance yet stood powerless as he watched the attack happen. From various interviews and accurate research this cleverly creates the re-construction of this tragic event.
Given the story and the sheer brutality surrounding this attack of hatred, I knew from the start it wouldn’t be an easy watch given you know the conclusion. As predicted the attack was bloody, raw and you can feel the hateful vibe within the scene as the attack happens. Maltby’s time in the hospital up to the point where he says a heartfelt goodbye to his beloved is particularly heart wrenching; being part of a couple that are often seen as alternative, it hit home.
I enjoyed the way it was filmed; murder is a dark and uncomfortable topic for most. I suspect it’s difficult to film a reconstruction and have it come across in an emotional way without going over the top. The subtly in this film worked incredibly well; particularly relatable to those who love art, it covers the topics it set to cover in a beautiful way. The brutal scenes of the attack contrast greatly to the dreamlike sequence of Sophie and Rob’s relationship.
The cast acted out their roles extremely well; Abigail Lawrie gave a charming performance as Sophie Lancaster, from her fierce, determined when she’s persuading Maltby to venture outside again after being bullied outside a chip shop to her vulnerable side where she shows emotion and concern. She certainly stepped into her boots and portrayed her well.
I have always admired Nico Mirallegro’s acting skills, having watched him in Hollyoaks and My Mad Fat Diary, my expectations exceeded as he took on the role of Sophie’s boyfriend Robert Maltby.
Another notable performance comes from Reiss Jarvis, who portrays Michael Gorman. The first person to call an ambulance but terrified to come forward to the police at first. Eventhough his character was fictionalised but based around real life figures, his performance hiding his anxiety between going forward to the police and betraying his “friends” was fantastic.
So overall, this is worth a watch. Be prepared with tissues.